Estimating Population Size and Drag Sampling Efficiency for the

Blacklegged Tick (Acari: Ixodidae)

Quote- "As part of a long-term study to monitor relative tick

abundance patterns throughout the year, we con-

ducted drag sampling, in which a 1-m2 panel of white

corduroy is pulled along the ground and over vege-

tation (Falco and Fish 1992) on a “permanent” grid

established in 1987. The grid, measuring 3,600 m2 (60

by 60 m), was sampled 1Ð3 times weekly from late

March through mid-December, as weather permitted.

However, as the numbers of nymphs and larvae in-

creased in the late spring and summer months, re-

spectively, and again in the fall when adults become

active, permanent grids were sampled three times per

week to ensure that the week of peak abundance

could be determined accurately.

For each sample, 500 m2 of area was dragged by randomly selecting

transects through the study grid. Ticks found clinging

to the cloth were removed with forceps, then stored

for later identiÞcation and counting. Mean weekly

densities (ticks per square meter) were calculated and

plotted to determine the seasonal distribution of each

tick stage (e.g., Fish 1993).

Once peak abundance was attained, population estimation

sampling was initiated on a second grid located 􏰠100 m distant.

Routine drag sampling continued on the permanent grid while pop-

ulation estimation sampling was conducted strictly on the second grid."

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Collecting Ticks for Studies and Surveys

It's not a fun job, but someone's got to do it.

Although we have an exploding epidemic on our hands, tick and tick borne disease research hit a serious lull in Maryland once enough data was collected to support a vaccine trial in the mid 1990's.

Unfortunately, the unsuccessful proverbial "cash cow" vaccine suffered a quick death after over 1,000 vaccine adverse event reports were filed, and vaccine recipients were involved in law suits against those they blamed for problems reportedly suffered as a result of the vaccine.

Since that time volunteer patient advocates have been collecting ticks, recording data and raising funds to have ticks tested.Larval tick sampling can be conducted in late August and early September, when larval activity is at its peak in the north-east.

It is vital all clothing be treated and all precautions taken to prevent volunteers from being bitten.

Nymphal tick sampling is conducted in late June and early July (north-east), when nymphs are at their peak. Several sets of clothing should be treated and kept on hand in the event of a volunteer should go through nests of baby ticks or will be in the field for several days.

Collecting adult ticks for population studies can be initiated in mid to late November and extended into December if needed, depending on the weather. Wearing light colored clothing will help volunteers spot ticks on themselves and their partners.

White tights can be worn to help prevent ticks from attaching to legs, however, wearing white or light colors in the woods during the hunting season can pose additional risks.

Lucy Barnes

Collecting for Ticks

Dragging and Flagging Methods

2010 Collection Project

Maryland Eastern Shore Counties

4-6 sites per county

2 winter blizzards (back-to-back) followed by several months of 90+ degree weather

Tick Populations Down

Plot Sizes- 82 ft. X 65.6 ft.

White cloth (courduroy)

39.37 in. X 39.37 in.

Sites for Collecting

Woods edges, open fields, deep woods, grassy areas along stream banks, deer runs.

Last Updated- April 2019

Lucy Barnes